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Negentropic Explorations of Radio: Alloys of Matter and Information

English title Negentropic Explorations of Radio: Alloys of Matter and Information
Applicant Savic Selena
Number 190310
Funding scheme Spark
Research institution Hochschule für Gestaltung & Kunst FHNW
Institution of higher education University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (without UTE) - FHNW
Main discipline Arts
Start/End 01.01.2020 - 28.02.2021
Approved amount 117'800.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Arts
Communication sciences

Keywords (7)

radio signals; philosophy of technology; digital corporeality; design research; posthuman subjectivity; machine learning; media studies

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Es handelt sich um ein experimentelles Projekt welches neue Wege der Organisation von Radio-Signal Archiven mit Hilfe von Machine-Learning Algorithmen erforscht. Ausgehend von Radiosignalen als natürliche und kulturelle Phänomene hinterfragt das Projekt persistente und grundlegende Dualismen in der Moderne (Beziehung Natur-Kultur). Es kreiert dabei sogenannte "digitale Observatorien", welche neue Methoden für den Umgang mit reichhaltigen Informationen und digitaler Körperlichkeit schaffen sollen.
Lay summary

Inhalt und Ziel des Forschungsprojekts

Ziel des Projekts ist die Entwicklung von Prototyp-Schnittstellen: 'digitale Observatorien' zur Organisation und Navigation von reichlich Information in einer für den Beobachter sinnvollen Weise. Diese 'digitalen Observatorien' organisieren Informationen auf der Grundlage von Ähnlichkeiten, die durch maschinelle Lernprozesse identifiziert wurden. Ein digitales bereits vorhandenes Archiv von Funksignalen wird in zwei Fallstudien neu organisiert. Die erste Fallstudie konzentriert sich auf Bilder von Signalspektrogrammen (visuelle Darstellung der Frequenz-Zusammensetzung eines Signals), um Spekulationen über den Zusammenhang zwischen Signaldarstellung und technischen Kommunikationsprotokollen zu ermöglichen. Die zweite Studie wird Ähnlichkeiten zwischen "sonst nicht verwandten" Signalen aufdecken, die alle in einem kontinuierlichen Erkundungsraum - einer Kugel - organisiert werden. Über einfache ontologische Unterscheidungen hinaus von Materie oder Information, von Subjekten oder Objekten, soll das Wahrnehmen von Informationen auf diese Weise eine Reflexion über Phänomene, wie z.B. Funksignale, ermöglichen.

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext

Das Projekt leistet einen Beitrag zu den Bereichen Geisteswissenschaften und experimentelle Designforschung mit einem besonderen Interesse am Digitalen. Es zeigt neue Sichtweisen im Umgang mit maschinellem Lernen, indem es die Dichotomie von Natur-Kultur als ein verflochtenes Konstrukt adressiert.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 19.12.2019

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Datasets

Radio Explorations Data

Author Savic, Selena; Martins, Yann Patrick
Publication date 11.04.2021
Persistent Identifier (PID) 10.5281/zenodo.4673430
Repository Zenodo
Abstract
The dataset is obtained from the Signal Identification Guide (SIGID) wiki, an organized database of information on radio signals. It contains audio samples (.wav, .mp3, .ogg), spectrogram images (.png) and metadata on radio signals in two .csv files. Each signal is characterized by signal type, frequency, bandwidth, modulation type, location, sample audio, spectrogram and a short description. They were received and recorded using software defined radio, and most of the audio samples have been demodulated from IQ energy information to audio. The dataset is created by crawling the SIGID wiki website to gather the data on known and unknown signals, updated last time in February 2021.We include two python scripts that can be used to produce audio chunks and corresponding spectrograms, which were used to train the self-organizing map models in the research projects.

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Deep City: Climate change, democracy and the digital Talk given at a conference Radio Explorations: Data Observatories of Environmental Radio Tranismissions 25.03.2021 Lausanne, Switzerland Savic Selena;
New Materialist Informatics 2021 Talk given at a conference Radio Explorations: Computing Identities of Transmissions 25.03.2021 Kassel, Germany Savic Selena;
4S/EASST Locating and Timing Matters: Significance and agency of STS in emerging worlds Talk given at a conference Architectonic Studies of Radio Signals: Reorganizing Archives of Data/Natures in their own Terms 20.08.2020 Prague, Czech Republic Savic Selena;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Radio Explorations website International 2021

Abstract

This project proposes a humanities exploration of machine learning techniques, using methods characteristic for art and design research. Starting from an ambition to address the persistent and foundational dualism in modern thinking (e.g. nature - culture, subject - object, mind - body), the project engages with technology and computation in an experimental way. The experience of working with machine learning algorithms opens up a space of thinking which is characterized by synthesis in place of analysis: creating alloys rather than cutting apart. I propose to work with these processes as procedures for encoding and decoding information from noise (data), and demonstrate them as negentropic, synthesis-oriented ways to acquire knowledge. I will work with radio signals, both naturally occurring and man-made, and identify patterns, events, activities in the data on different types of transmissions. I will work with the data set from the Radio Signal Identification Guide Wiki. With this data, I will produce two case studies: the first one focusing on spectrogram images of all signals; the second one focusing on abstracting from existing categories in the dataset and reorganizing it according to subjective preferences of researchers. Browser-based tools or digital observatories for organizing and navigating this data in meaningful ways will be developed in scope of the project and used in both studies. These observatories will be presented at two workshops with invited experts. The design of digital observatories, workshops and their results will be documented in a peer-reviewed article. These outputs will address the articulation of similarities and difference beyond simple ontological distinctions onto matter or information, subjects or objects. I see this work as an experimental setup for further work on methods for engaging with abundant information. In the future, I hope to apply these methods on more complex datasets while continuing to explore digital corporeality.
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